The Perfectibility of Human Nature in Eastern and Western Thought: The Central Story

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SUNY Press, Feb 7, 2008 - Philosophy - 219 pages
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How perfectible is human nature as understood in Eastern and Western philosophy, psychology, and religion? Harold Coward examines some of the very different answers to this question. He poses that in Western thought, including philosophy, psychology, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, human nature is often understood as finite, flawed, and not perfectible—in religion requiring God’s grace and the afterlife to reach the goal. By contrast, Eastern thought arising in India frequently sees human nature to be perfectible and presumes that we will be reborn until we realize the goal—the various yoga psychologies, philosophies, and religions of Hinduism and Buddhism being the paths by which one may perfect oneself and realize release from rebirth. Coward uses the striking differences in the assessment of how perfectible human nature is as the comparative focus for this book.
  

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Contents

Introduction
1
The Perfectibility of Human Nature in Western Thought
7
The Perfectibility of Human Nature in Western Philosophy and Psychology
9
The Perfectibility of Human Nature in Jewish Thought
29
The Perfectibility of Human Nature in Christian Thought
55
The Perfectibility of Human Nature in Islamic Thought
81
The Perfectibility of Human Nature in Eastern Thought arising in India
101
The Perfectibility of Human Nature in Indian Philosophy and Yoga Psychology
103
The Perfectibility of Human Nature in Hindu Thought
125
The Perfectibility of Human Nature in Buddhist Thought
157
Conclusion
185
Notes
195
Index
215
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About the author (2008)

Harold Coward is Professor Emeritus of History and Founding Director of the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society at the University of Victoria. He is the author and editor of many books, including Religion and Peacebuilding (with Gordon S. Smith) and Yoga and Psychology: Language, Memory, and Mysticism, both also published by SUNY Press.

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